How To Set Boundaries On Your Child's Social Media Accounts

Aug 05, 2016

boundaries

Pew Research Center reports that 92% of teens online use at least one social media platform, with Facebook still topping the list (despite reports that Facebook is obsolete for today's teens). Whether your child is already on social media or not, it's time to practice some boundary setting with their social media use. Now is as good as any time to discuss online boundaries with kids.

Check In

Do you know what social media platforms your child is using? If you don't, it's definitely time to check in with your teen and check out the features those platforms offer. Always to take a step back and really look at how you and your child are communicating - does your child feel comfortable coming to you with...uncomfortable things? If the lines of communication are truly open, then boundary setting with social media should be breeze.

Make online check-ins a part of your daily routine. Just as you would ask about your child's day, ask, without pressuring, if anything "cool" happened online that day. Making online activity a regular talking point will make it easier for your child to tell you when they've had an unsettling experience.

Start Early

Communicating your expectations from an early age goes a long way in setting boundaries with kids. From the time you put a tablet or smartphone into your child's hand, your boundary setting, be it time limits, a reward system, or simply discussing how electronic use is a privilege, not a right.

Time

You've likely implemented screen time limits, but have you specified time limits for social media use? Social media is like the telephone of days of old, and I definitely had a time limit for my telephone use as a teenager (I can remember at least one embarrassing incident of being "cut off" the phone while I was talking to a boy). Set limits for the amount of time your child is allowed to spend on social media platforms, and enforce the importance of facetime with friends over virtual time.

What are your thoughts about smartphone use after bedtime? Many of my friends collect their children's phones at night, not only to review activity, but to protect their kids from sleep interruptions. Boundary setting will also allow you to have the peace of mind to get a good night's sleep. My parents once told me that "nothing good happens after 10pm," when I had one of my frequent curfew battles with them as a teen. Now that I'm a parent, I absolutely agree, and this applies to smartphone use as well - nothing is so important that it can't be dealt with during daylight hours.

Sign Up

This is especially important for all of you technophobes - find out what social media platforms your child is using and sign up for accounts on all of them. No, you don't have to become an active user, but you should familiarize yourself with the privacy settings, how personal information is displayed, and you definitely should be checking in, from time to time, on your child's accounts. This means you may need to "friend" your child or follow them, but this shouldn't be an issue because you've already communicated your expectations for social media use and conduct, right?

Because this is a two-way street, have your child discuss which boundaries she doesn't want you to cross on social media. More than likely, your child doesn't mind you being their "friend" on a platform, but they don't really want you interacting on their page or in their threads; find out your child's wishes before you post.

Friends

This is a biggie, and one that may keep your child safe online: only allow your child to be friends with people they know in real life. I'm sure you've seen the show, To Catch a Predator, and have your heart skip a beat in seeing how easy it is for children to find themselves in dangerous situations after having been groomed online.

Not only should you make it clear that your child is not allowed to "friend" someone they don't know, you should also be checking their friend list and followers regularly. Because you've opened accounts on the social media platforms your child is using, it's easy for you to monitor who they're adding as friends. You should also establish that multiple profiles are not allowed.

Consequences

While we know that unsafe online behavior can have devastating consequences, be clear about your expectations, establish consequences for rule breaking, and follow through. When you're setting boundaries with kids, failure to enforce the rules will give your child the impression that the boundary line you've established is not exactly set in stone. Following through with consequences is the most effective form of enforcing boundaries with kids, so keep that line drawn in the sand!